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Like many children

I’m glad I don’t go to school nowadays. You might remember that, back when, my school seemed to hardly know what to do with me.

As a child, my interests were diverse and eclectic – like many children. I was smart and learned quickly, like many children. I swelled with creative urges, like many children. I was constantly intellectually restless and intellectually understimulated, like many children.

If I was a ten-year-old child now, I’d most likely be incorrectly labelled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and medicated until all of those good things had been ‘normalised’.

Instead of being smart, well-educated, well-read, far-ahead of all of my fellow students (and a ridiculous polymath besides), I’d be uninspired, insipid, average, and would have achieved so very much less than I have in my life – and I’d have come to believe that my intellectual and creative gifts were an illness.

Screw that. I know which one I’d rather be.

Now, I’m not saying that ADHD isn’t real. I’m not saying that it doesn’t need treatment. I’m not saying that the treatments don’t work (despite the doubts that have been cast on some of the clinical trials).

What I am saying is that the ‘net’ of ADHD is cast rather wider than perhaps it should be. It’s almost a fad. Lazy diagnosis, lazy medicate-and-forget treatments, the idea that variation from some idealised notion of normalcy is a defect and (perhaps worst-of-all) the tendency to lump folks into overbroad classes and deal with those people as a class, rather than as distinct and varied individuals.

Now those are problems.

These days, the word ‘special’ has taken on a new meaning. If you’re ‘special’ or are the parent of a ‘special’ child you probably know that the word all-too-frequently means ‘broken’ or ‘defective’.

Your kids are special – in the real, olde worlde meaning of the word. Yes, sometimes they’re also broken or defective… but whether they’re special-special or special-defective, both kinds of kids need the same thing: They need attention, and care, and it needs to be tailored to the individual. One size doesn’t fit everyone.

Creative, smart, eclectic, and gifted children aren’t what society considers ‘normal’. It can be daunting, frustrating and troublesome to have a child whose intellectual and creative gifts far exceed your own. There’s no manual, or definitive guide to dealing with it. It takes extra time and extra effort to recognise, understand and foster their gifts, and to allow them to become truly great. To be all that they can be.

That’s really what you want for your children, isn’t it? Help them. Your child is a person and not a DSM-IV or ICD-10 classification. Learn who they are, and help them become who they will be.

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Categories: Culture, Opinion.

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